Montel Williams’ EA Wisdom


Amazed to see this posting on Facebook by Montel Williams.

This hits the bulls eye with what enterprise architecture–both organizationally and personally–is all about. 

Love it, and thank you for sharing this Montel! 

(Source Photo: Facebook December 11, 2012)

IT Security, The Frankenstein Way


Here’s a riddle: When is a computer virus not a dangerous piece of malware? Answer: when it is hidden as Frankenstein code.

The Economist(25 August 2012) describes how computer viruses are now being secretly passed into computers, by simply sending a blueprint for the virus rather than the harmful code itself into your computer–then the code is harvested from innocuous programs and assembled to form the virus itself.

Like the fictional character, Frankenstein, that is stitched together out of scavenged body parts, the semantic blueprint pulls together code from host programs to form the viruses.

This results is a polymorphic viruses, where based on the actual code being drawn from other programs, each virus ends up appearing a little different and can potentially mask itself–bypassing antivirus, firewall, and other security barriers.

Flipping this strategy around, in a sense, Bloomberg Businessweek (20 June 2012) reports on a new IT security product by Bromiumthat prevents software downloads from entering the entire computer, and instead sets aside a virtual compartment to contain the code and ensure it is not malicious, and if the code is deemed dangerous, the cordoned-off compartment will dissolve preventing damage to the overall system.

So while on the offensive side, Frankenstein viruses stitch together parts of code to make a dangerous whole–here on the defensive side, we separate out dangerous code from potentially infecting the whole computer.

Computer attacks are getting more sinister as they attempt to do an end-run around standardized security mechanisms, leading to continually evolving computer defenses to keep the Frankensteins out there, harmless, at bay.

(Source Photo: herewith attribution to Dougal McGuire)

Security Advisory For Architecture Drawings


Dark Reading (21 June 2012) came out with security news of a AutoCAD Worm called ACAD/Medre.A that targets design documents.

I also found warnings about this vulnerability at PC magazine (24 June 2012).

This malware was discovered by computer security firm ESET.

This is a serious exploitation in the industry leader for computer-aided design and drafting that is used to create most of our architectural blueprints.

Approximately 10,000 machines are said to have been affected in Peru and vicinity, with documents being siphoned off to email accounts in China.

With information on our architectural structure and designs for skyscrapers, government building, military installations, bridges, power plants, dams, communication hubs, transportation facilities, and more, our critical infrastructure would be seriously jeopardized.

This can even be used to steal intellectual property such as designs for innovations or even products pending patents.

This new malware is another example of how cyber espionage is a scary new reality that can leave us completely exposed from the inside out.

Need any more reason to “air gap” sensitive information and systems?

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Wade Rockett)

>When the Plan Fails and Enterprise Architecture


Enterprise architecture develops the roadmap for the organization and no roadmap is foolproof. With any roadmap, sometimes there’s a traffic jam, an overturned tractor-trailer, or a washed-out bridge. Whatever the scenario, the EA plan is not the right way to go all the time, every time. That is why the plans need to be agile and responsive to the events as they unfold on the ground.

Similarly, in our personal lives, not every road we take is going to lead us to success. In business school we learn that 90% of new businesses fail within the first 5 years. Nowadays, even marriages fail at a rate close to 50%. And according to ExecuNet, the “average executive tenure is less than four years…[and] 18% of executives do not survive their first year in a new job.” So as individuals and as organizations, we can plan for success, but there are no guarantees.

Fortune Magazine, 9 June 2008, reports “a reversal or two can pave the way to triumph…[or] adversity makes you stronger.” Here’s how you can persevere in the face of adversity (adopted from Fortune, but my thoughts on what they mean):

  1. Calculated risk taking—just because you or your organization fails at something, doesn’t mean it’s the end of the line. You have to pick yourself back up onto the proverbial horse and start riding again. It is risky to keep trying, of course. Life is full of risks. You can’t avoid risk. So you take calculated risks and keep trying until you succeed.
  2. Get rid of the naysayers—doubters and naysayers can take the wind out of your plans and ambitions. Yes, listen to reason and experience and learn from it. But don’t just abandon your dreams. If you believe you can do something and can make a difference, you owe it to yourself to try.
  3. Live a purpose-driven life—similar to an organization needing a mission, vision, strategy, and architecture to provide a purpose and roadmap for the organization, so to an individual needs a purpose and a plan to advance their personal goals and aspirations.
  4. Visualize success—I’ve heard this one many times used successfully for those in sports, entertainment, going into interviews, and even those with illness and disabilities. You have to train your mind to think, feel, and actualize the success experience. If you can just visualize success, you are truly a step closer to it.
  5. Lessons learned—We all make mistakes. It’s part of being human. The key though is to learn from those mistakes, so that you do better the next time around. Life’s lessons build on each other. That’s why with age comes wisdom. Experience can go a long way to a new round of success.
  6. Failure is not a life sentence—While we may certainly feel that failure is the end of the world, more often than not, failure is temporary. We’ve got to see past the failure—see the light at the end of tunnel and make our way toward it. That light is success waiting for us.

In the end, we have to be strong to deal with the bumps and bruises we call life. I see enterprise architecture as a structure for dealing with risk and uncertainty. In its most simplistic form, identifying where you are, setting a target of where you want to go, and charting a course to get there is a lens that we can use in almost every aspect of our organizational and personal lives. Rather, than wandering along aimlessly, let’s set a path and try to have an interesting journey filled with learning, growth and hopefully some success for our efforts.